Junk Food For the Soul
Back in my twenties and thirties, every New Age Expert I ran across held that eating animal flesh was spiritual bad news. It was touted to be honoring sacred life, ecologically sound, kinder and healthier to eschew (and not to chew) “anything that used to have a face.”
I didn’t find it easy, and often didn’t find it very palatable. But I stuck with it, ignoring my body’s craving for a good steak no matter how it pleaded or wheedled, because staying vegetarian was (I thought) a necessary part of the Spiritual Road.
I tried distracting my body with fake meats and low fat versions of forbidden things, most concocted with lots of extra ingredients and chemicals I couldn’t pronounce. Just as long as it wasn’t flesh, I was doing okay, They said.
Then there was the fast-and-juicing phase.
Even solid food was less than spiritual; “you’ll reach Bliss faster if you just drink lots of fresh fruit and vegetable liquids. Welcome the gnawing feeling in your stomach and the headaches as proof you’re getting rid of your toxicity. You’ll be healthier,” They said, “guaranteed.”
So I kept drinking as many juices as I could tolerate, knew the location of every ladies’ room on the Eastern Seaboard, and still told my body it didn’t know what it was talking about when it told me it was desperate for the roast chicken at a friend’s dinner table.
After years of struggling to be a low-fat-eating, “natural food” vegetarian, I found myself forty pounds overweight, exhausted, and with cholesterol and blood chemistry numbers that had my doctors reaching for their prescription pads. Most tellingly, I was absolutely miserable.
That’s when I put away the “what do they say” mantra in my brain and asked myself “what do I want? What does my body want?”
I consciously explored what would taste good to me and what wouldn’t.
I started asking myself when I wanted to eat “what is triggering me — is it hunger or something else that food won’t satisfy?”
I learned again what hunger really felt like, not as a signal that I was being metaphysically pure, but instead simply as a nudge from my body that it was time to nourish myself.
I learned those precious lessons by consuming real rather than processed food, being present and fully appreciative, and avoiding mindless grazing where I ate beyond fullness.
I switched, calmly and without guilt, back to a meat-eating diet.
I was still conscious that another being was giving its life to support mine, and so chose to purchase my food from a local farm that honored both the land they worked and the animals they raised. There, the pigs and chickens and cows and sheep were housed in clean and comfortable surroundings, with plenty of room, and daily access to grass and pasture, sun, shade, water and fresh air.
When I sat down to a meal, I gave thanks for the animal that was about to nourish me and the farm that provided the animal. And I guiltlessly enjoyed every bite.
Within six months, my blood chemistry was in great shape, my energy was back, and weight had come off effortlessly. (My boyfriends said I was a heck of a lot easier to live with, too.)
When I am healthy and full of energy, I do my best work as a pastoral counselor, an inspirational speaker, and a psychic medium. So for me, eating meat that is humanely raised and harvested on a sustainable farm is, in fact, ecologically sounder, kinder and healthier.
By honoring sacred life, both the animals’ and my own, in a way that takes best care of me and enables me to do the work I cherish, I stand within my own Truth.
This story is not to disparage vegetarianism. I would never deride a Buddhist or Hindu for refusing to touch pot roast, or insist that a Seventh-Day Adventist chow down on barbecued ribs. They may feel 100% on all levels following a nonmeat lifestyle, and that’s great — for them.
It does, however, prove a point: what is right for someone is not necessarily right for everyone. I must find my own Truth, whether it is one shared with someone else or not.
With the explosion of self-help books and tomes touting Enlightenment, there are literally thousands of people who claim to know the Truth.
You can have your Truth served up in books, on DVDs, on audio CDs, on YouTube, in podcasts, on flash cards, in newsletters, on decals, from daily calendars, on t-shirts with cute sayings, and within teddy bears that chirp seventeen different Truth-y phrases — in case you feel you need your Truth laced with a dose of WarmFuzzy.
You can attend seminars where the Truth is pronounced from microphones to dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people at a time who subscribe to the same Truth. You can even go on a cruise with the Truth, and be immersed in it Live! for days at a time.
Some go so far as to say your life will be miserable if you don’t subscribe to their Truth. They have before and after testimonials, pictures, and infomercials. (These days, some Truth-bearers feel they need Marketing to be heard above the cacophony of everyone else’s Truth.)
“Waitaminnit,” you’re probably saying. “Aren’t you doing the same thing?”
Yes — and no. Yes, you probably found this blog googling “self-help” or “psychic development” or “psychic readings.” Yes, I have earned money from those who choose to have a reading with me or attend a workshop (and thank you for doing so, by the way.) Yes, these are all tools that I believe may help you as you walk your Life Road.
But that’s as far as the similarity goes.
This is what I have found works for me, after years of walking my path, with a life full of experiences. Because I’ve seen a difference in the quality of my days, I delight in sharing it with those who find it interesting or useful. But I do not and will not say my Truth is The Big One for Everyone.
Tell you what — let’s look at what is called Food for the Soul out there, and help you find what nourishes you — and what is merely Junk and Bunk.
First, go to the biggest bookstore you can find. If you live in a rural area, go online to Barnes & Noble or Amazon.
Spend time in the Self-Help section. Pick up (or click on) at least twenty different books.
Flip through them; read the squibs and testimonials and indexes. Read a bit from each one and get a sense of how the author presents his or her view of the world.
Note how some of the authors contradict each other.
Some say that their Truths are proven by years, decades or centuries of other people saying the same Truth (though perhaps they didn’t say it as eloquently, because they aren’t selling books right now).
Some people don’t have their own Truth but fill their book with pointing out another person’s Truth that they feel is Right.
Some say their Truth is newly discovered and supersedes the other Truths that came before theirs.
But they all tend to promise one thing: do it my way, and your life will change for the better.
Next, go online and look at some of the chat boards, blogs, fan pages and websites of the Truth-bearers and/or their followers. Observe the majority of the people and information. (Remember that there are always a few at the extreme ends of any philosophy, and they don’t represent the whole.)
Do the majority of players say their Truth works because it has proven itself to them personally, or because they are “told” it “will” work?
Do they share how this Truth helped to improve their lives?
How tolerant are they of those who do not believe their Truth?
Do they work to explain and clarify their Truth, or simply dismiss or castigate those who don’t see the Truth their way?
If the posts are particularly philosophical, do the posters show evidence of understanding and living the tenets promulgated in their particular Truth?
Finally, go and inventory your own bookshelf.
How many different authors do you have there?
Do some of them contradict each other?
Do you subscribe to everybody’s Truth?
Do the various subjects provide a snapshot of what you believed at particular points in your life that perhaps you don’t believe now, or is there one theme that runs through everyone’s Truth that appears to be your Truth?
How do you feel about changing your view of the Truth? Uncomfortable? At peace? Does it bring up feelings of self-doubt, or an understanding of metamorphosis?
Spend some time looking over the authors and Truths you’ve chosen to immerse yourself in over the years and ask yourself a central question: is my life better for having subscribed to one Truth over another, or have they all somehow been beneficial?
Don’t be surprised if you find that there’s a little bit of Truth in almost everything, Also, some things that were huge for you in the past may turn out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors. Those you can feel free to toss.
Finally, accept the fact that no one out there holds your Truth. Not even you, completely. You will never get to the Bottom Of It All, or figure it all out before you die. You will hit your nose at the end of blind alleys, realize that what you thought was a Golden Goose was a toy ducky with its stuffing coming out, and finally realize that There Are No Complete Truths About Anything.
Don’t let that scare you. Instead, find it liberating. Revel in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions.”